NEWSWATCH: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russia’s civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

A diverse band of urban activists, communicating largely through social media, are combating plans to build an enormous high-rise housing development amid the forested ring around the capital  ….

The protesters who make up the Mortongrad Nyet! coalition have no shared ideology, and certainly aren’t interested in criticizing the Kremlin. Yet they are redefining the limits of Russian civil society … focusing on specific, realistic grievances as they confront local government. … changing expectations in another key way – by actually winning a few of their battles.
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The first major confrontation between organized citizens and developers in the Moscow region was … in … Khimki, beginning about a decade ago, to prevent destruction of an old-growth forest to make way for a new toll road. … Local authorities cracked down hard; activists were arrested, and several were severely beaten …. The toll road has since been completed.

Click here for Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russian civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.”